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Community-Level Social Determinants and Children’s School Readiness

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The current study examined links between social determinants across communities and school readiness of children attending kindergarten in each community, in literacy, math, self-regulation, and social skills. Four types of social determinants were explored: socioeconomic, crime/violence, health and well-being, and access to resources. Data came from the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment, with 40,652 entering kindergarteners attending 706 schools in the fall of 2014. The 706 schools were nested within 36 counties. Variables representing social determinants were drawn from a variety of publicly available data sources from the year(s) most recently prior to the 2014–2015 school year. Bayesian multilevel modeling was conducted with children nested within schools, within counties. Children’s school readiness in all four domains was negatively predicted by economic disadvantage at the school-level (indicated by other children with whom they attend Kindergarten), accounting for economic disadvantage in their own household. Moreover, school-level economic disadvantage amplified the negative effects of children’s economic disadvantage on their school readiness. Four county-level social determinants also predicted one or more of the four school readiness outcomes, accounting for child- and school-level factors: child care supply, behavioral crime, maternal smoking, and adult health. County-level findings should be interpreted with caution due to a small sample and exploratory approach. However, this study is a first step to helping leaders address critical questions about how community risk factors like crime, and resources like child care, relate to school readiness among children in their communities.

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The current study was made possible through funding from the Ford Family Foundation to the Oregon School Readiness Research Consortium.

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Correspondence to Shannon T. Lipscomb.

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Lipscomb, S.T., Miao, A.J., Finders, J.K. et al. Community-Level Social Determinants and Children’s School Readiness. Prev Sci 20, 468–477 (2019).

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